Historic Galesburg, Illinois

Galesburg was founded by George Washington Gale, a Presbyterian minister from New York state. A small council from New York then purchased 17 acres in Knox County in 1835. The first 25 settlers arrived in 1836 to settle the land for prospering opportunities in a new setting. 

Galesburg was home to the first anti-slavery society in Illinois, founded in 1837, and was a historic stop on the Underground Railroad. The city was also the location of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate, at Knox College October 7, 1858. Galesburg also once held other political matter in The Carr Mansion and was the site of a presidential cabinet meeting held in 1899 by U.S. President William McKinley and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay. After the Civil War, Galesburg was the birthplace to artist Dorothea Tanning, and former Major League Baseball star Jim Sundberg as well as the inventor of the Ferris Wheel; George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.. Galesburg's largest legacy probably resides in poet, author, and historian Carl Sandburg. Carl Sandburg's boyhood home is now operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as "The Carl Sandburg State Historic Site." The grounds include the cottage Sandburg was born in paired with a modern museum, and the rock under which he and his wife Lilian are buried. 

Throughout much of its colorful history, Galesburg has been tied to the streamlining railroad industry. Early on, local entrepreneurs and businessmen were sizable backers of the first railroad to connect Illinois' at that time with the two largest cities—Chicago and Quincy. This eventually included building a bridge across the river into Burlington, Iowa to progress forward in a Western direction expansion. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad otherwise known as The CB&Q was cited as major rail sorting yard, and was the first to use "hump sorting" technology. The CB&Q also built a major depot on South Seminary Street which was unfortunately torn down and replaced by a smaller and more simple station in the early 1980's. The rail yards are still used by The BNSF Railway Corporation and is the largest private employer in Galesburg.

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